10 years pricking the art voodoo doll 2005-2015

Category: nottingham art scene (Page 3 of 3)


This week’s rant…pigeonholing….


here the dictionary definition…

A polymath (Greek polymathÄ“s, salve πολυμαθής, meaning “knowing, understanding, or having learnt in quantity,” compounded from πολυ- “much, many,” and the root μαθ-, meaning “learning, understanding”[1]) is a person well educated in a wide variety of subjects or fields.[2] Polymaths are also described as persons with encyclopaedic or broad or varied knowledge or learning [3].

So when some twat with a M.A. in a very small specialist area …say Indian Textiles and Dodecahedrons in Southern Spanish Art 1290-1329…says you have to specialise point them towards one or more of the following….

David Lynch

Butch Hancock

Terry Allen

John Byrne

Alistair Gray


Scottish Generalists

Patrick Geddes

I could add more….usually never English by the way

Then tell them to **** *** very politely

I do everything because everything is interesting….

England is full of specialists which why when you say I write songs, paint, write poetry, review music they go glassy eyed…..You cannot be serious because you are not an academic specialist…

Well I met a specialist in angels recently and his grip on reality a lot less sound than mine but there academic privileges to hold on to..ditto 50% of Oxford Dons….I once met one who showed me photos of builders he’d taken because he’d never seen one before…….world expert on rare apples….says it all really…

BRITART 6 & Sideshow

For me the term Sideshow is more than appropriate. A selection of works that conform to the same academically informed notions of ‘practice’ as those of the main show. Far from being a ‘Brit Art Show’ this selection is a show of ‘Art made in Britain’ within rigorously defined parameters that not only manages to highlight the commercialisation of the British Art School system in the last twenty years (which is dependant on overseas business) but also to exclude virtually (with one or two notable exceptions) all artists in the East Midlands.

Sideshow was conceived as a local response and redress to this but has spectacularly failed to deliver on that count. So what chance that this major event will ‘talk’ to the people of Nottingham and that they will talk back……probably none.

Very good community arts responses in themselves do not mask a wider lack of ambition in this event’s delivery which does not bode well for the future of all the arts (not just an increasingly cliquey and academic minority) e.g. the new CCAN and other projects.

A truly democratic and accessible arts would take note of all strands of art-working practice and all groups. This event talks to itself a bit like the mythical man-on-the-bus and can people be blamed if they choose to vote with their feet rather than being engaged with its ‘strategies’, for sale ‘new-media smart-alecry’ and ‘sense of irony’.

A failed opportunity in my opinion but in a city blighted by lack of genuine support for the arts for many years and a collective lack of self-worth highlighted by laughable comparisons to Barcelona and Berlin not entirely unexpected. It is time Nottingham believed in itself and its artists and became the ‘New Nottingam’ so beloved of the advertising campaigns.

That confidence has been damaged by this event not strengthened and it may take years to repair. It is time to start building from the roots up and not expect the importation of outside artists to trickle down. We have the people here it just means looking to our own strengths rather than elsewhere. Lets have a bit more ‘proud provincialism’ and a bit less ‘international glamour’. Let us stop chasing shadows…….


April 2006

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